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How To Align Your Recruiting Program To Support Hiring Managers; And 7 Questions Every Recruiter Should Ask

To truly support the hiring manager and impact the business, recruiters should meet with hiring managers to discuss the real business need. In this post, we provide a few questions – and an example – to jumpstart this process.

Imagine the hiring manager engages an in-house, corporate recruiter to fill an open job inside their department. All to often, the process looks something like this:

  • The hiring manager emails a list of bullet points – including salary range, years of experiences, top skills, and more – to the recruiter.
  • The recruiter receives the list, reaches out to ask a few more questions, and then enters the new job details into their applicant tracking system (ATS), writes up a short job description and cuts/pastes in some “About” content, and then publishes it as a “live” job opening.
  • When the job is pushed to the career site, to be listed with all the other open jobs, it’s also pushed out to other job boards. Eventually, the job can be found listed on Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor, and any number of smaller, niche job boards.
  • Usually on the same day, applications begin to roll in – and in the end, the recruiter might have 20-200 + new applicants in their ATS to review.
  • The recruiter now has dual tasks: to review the group of applicants for the most qualified and begin the “active search” for candidates out in the world.
  • Eventually the hiring manager receives the top candidates.

Let’s put aside predictive hiring, chatbots, AI, and other things for a moment. What’s wrong with the above approach? Most often, the problem begins with that first conversation between the recruiter and the hiring manager. The one right after the hiring manager shares list, or request, for a new employee with the recruiter. 

When developing your consultative approach to recruiter training, make sure to include a step in your process where the recruiters and hiring managers actually meet to discuss business goals and the real reasons the hiring manager has for the job. It’s the responsibility of the recruiter to attract, identify, screen and present candidates. And they should be presenting only candidates who they believe can perform the job at a high level to support the department to reach their goals.

To be most effective, recruiters need to work strategically, as a true partner to the hiring manager, to help support their current and future needs and capabilities within the department.

See also: Modernize Talent Acquisition with TalentSum Pro

One of the best ways for the recruiter to become a strategic partner to their hiring managers is by learning to ask the right questions early in the process – to proactively and meet with hiring managers to discuss the business reason for the job.

Recruiters and hiring managers should come together to answer the following seven questions:

  1. Why is this job necessary right now?
  2. What are the business reasons for the job?
  3. What are the economic reasons?
  4. What are the required skills needed to succeed in this role?
  5. What are the activities they will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis?
  6. What does success in this role look like over 1-24 months?
  7. What is the expected career path?

Imagine the hiring manager in the data analytics and business intelligence department has an immediate need for a new data analyst to join their team. The company has its own data analytics platform and having more ways to analyze and translate data would improve the company’s ability to serve their clients.

By asking the right questions we might learn that the company is leaving a lot of money on the table, and adding more bandwidth would help solve this problem. We have just uncovered the real business need.

We might also learn that while the data analyst will be initially be used to share learnings on existing reports, what the hiring manager really wants is someone who is able to start out as a traditional data analyst and grow into a data analytics leader over time. Having new insights into the real business need might shift the search. Without asking the right questions, we might think we’re looking for a data analyst with 3-4 years experience and a strong set of technical skills.

Instead, we might also be looking for someone with higher-than-average Emotional Quotient (EQ) and not just someone with a sharp analytical skill set and a problem-solving attitude. We might open our aperture to include educational backgrounds in Liberal Arts or Economics – not only Mathematics or Computer Science.

But by taking the time to ask the right questions about the business need, we might learn that our ideal candidate also needs to be comfortable working in a team environment without explicit direction. We might learn our candidate will need to use data, and knowledge of data and the business, to proactively create and circulate new views and visualizations.

Because we asked about the real business need and also required skills, we might learn that our ideal candidate might need to create new processes in the way team members view and act on data – and now we know why. We might still look for people with expertise in SQL and experience in Tableau, Looker, or similar data visualization tools, but we might tailor our search to focus on people who are able to take initiative, bring sound judgment and great communication skills, and can work with limited supervision. These new insights change our search. 

When we ask the hiring manager about the activities the ideal candidate will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis, we might uncover that we need someone who can not only run, review, and digest data – but also make recommendations based on existing reports. We might learn that the hiring manager also wants more ways to look at data – and that this alone could be a full time job in the beginning. We might uncover that the initial need is for someone to present data and start looking for new ways for the company to interact with data for clients.

When we ask what success looks like over 1-24 months, the hiring manager might explain their thoughts about how the role might grow into a larger role. We might uncover what they really want is someone who can take ownership, expand the role, add tons of value and eventually hire and manage a talented team of analysts. This is a very special kind of data analyst. 

See also: How to Design a Consultative Recruiter Training Program to Improve Alignment Between Recruiter and Hiring Manager

What else can we learn by asking what success looks like in this role over 1-24 months? A lot actually. We might learn that on Day One the analyst needs to be able to interpret and make recommendations based on data – but that within six months, the analyst should be able to go beyond what the traditional analyst would deliver. When the hiring manager assigns projects, they need the successful candidate to move well beyond simply completing the work. Does this mean we’re now looking for someone who can take initiative, ownership?

We might be looking for someone who is able to ask the right questions, improve the way the department solves problems, improve how the department uses data to tell stories, share information, support clients and the team. We might also learn that we need someone who is able to begin to take over larger projects, complete them, and even find things the hiring manager can’t see or find.

We’re going to need someone who can add tremendous value and grow in their abilities to cover gaps in knowledge, skills, etc. By asking this single question about the hiring manager’s real expectations, we might learn something extra about team performance. We might learn that the hiring manager expects the candidate, within 24 months, to add enough value to warrant additional analysts. Maybe now we need someone who will be able to put in place processes for growth and then serve as a hiring manager, potentially adding a few more analysts to their own team.

By asking about career path we might learn that the hiring manager is looking for someone who can go beyond, take a more active role, and not just share and interpret data. Maybe what they’re really looking for is someone who can take their own findings to the next level. We might learn that after only a few months (3-6), the hiring manager wants this person to be able to take work off their plate or that 12+ months out, 90% of what this person will be doing should be related to forging a new role.

This might mean we should be looking for someone who, at least initially, will be following direction, but then over time, will be required to stretch and add responsibility and accountability to help build up the data analytics team, or even lead the team.

Without asking any of these business questions earlier in our search, we might think we’re only looking for a data analysts with 3-4 years of experience to fill a role. By asking the right business questions we are able to strategically support the hiring manager and add real valve to the recruitment and hiring program.

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If you want better alignment between recruiters and hiring managers, TalentSum can help. Our approach can deliver better results for less.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Mengel is the founder of TalentSum LLC, a strategic talent acquisition consultancy and best practices implementation firm. Some of the world’s most notable companies partner with TalentSum to activate a strong employer brand, attract more people who fit, improve engagement and experiences, and deliver high-performing cultures.

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